FOURTEEN - Thrones And Accusations
THRONES AND ACCUSATIONS
“Alright let us get this tribunal started.” Zeus began, his voice booming through the grand room, catching everyone’s attention. “Demeter, you are the one who requested this hearing, why don’t you take the floor first. I believe you have some accusations against Hades?” he offered, giving the floor over to her.
It was only now that Persephone noticed her mother had already entered the room. She walked elegantly to the center floor that was surrounded by the thrones of different gods. The thrones rose higher and higher around the center stage. The highest being Zeus who was flanked by Poseidon and Hades. She glared at Hades but for a moment her glare was placed onto Persephone, confirming what she already knew. Her mother held hated for her. It was here that her mother took her time sizing up each and every god making sure everyone’s eyes were on her. Persephone would never be the goddess her mother was. Her mother knew how to control a room, how to get what she wanted. Persephone was only hoping she could fake it enough to be believable.
“I have asked for this hearing to determine the outcome of my daughter kore, goddess of the spring.” She began. “Two days ago she was stolen from me in the middle of the night by the lord of the dead and taken down to the Underworld and kept there, away from me, her mother. And as her mother, I demand her to be returned to me immediately,” she commanded harshly but not with anger, Demeter was playing the part of a scorned mother and she was playing it well.
“Demeter, it would be in your best interest not to demand anything from me while in my court.” Zeus interrupted, shooting her what Persephone thought was a terrifying stair. “With that being said, a fair trial in order. According to our traditions, we will let every party have a turn to speak their side, then we will vote from which a decision will be made. As always, my decisions are final. Do all parties understand?” he asked the crowd of gods. They each took their turn nodding or audibly agreeing with him. Persephone looked down at her mother, still standing at the center, and saw her smirking. Persephone didn’t know if it meant she was overly cocky or if her mother had a trick up her sleeve. The thought sent chills down her back.
“Forgive me, Zeus, I meant no insult. I only wish to find the truth and for justice to be served.” her mother said carefully, picking and choosing her words until they slipped out of her mouth as smooth as nectar.
“Then proceed.” Zeus nodded once again handing the floor over.
“The night of the solstice I lost track of my lovely daughter, kore. She usually keeps to herself at those types of events, my daughter always being so shy, so i had no reason to worry about our separation. I only began to worry after she had been gone for quite some time and I was unable to find her anywhere. I frantically searched Olympus for my sweet girl, but she was nowhere to be found.” Demeter said sadly. Even Persephone felt guilty she had let her mother worry so much for her safety. “That was until I found her. With him.” Demeter said like it was a curse, pointing her words at Hades.
“Nymphs in the past have told me that they have spotted the god on the edges of the forest, watching her, but i did not think anything of it. Not then, but now I wonder what his true motives were. Certainly, I could not have imagined this. Not until now. Hades, the god of the dead took her. My poor little girl. Only a flower goddess, unable to protect herself. He stole her away the moment I tried to take her back. Acting as a thief instead of a god. He took her to his realm and locked her away where I could not reach her. I was forced to leave my darling daughter trapped in the dark Underworld, with no way to save her.”
Demeter paused before she finished pleading her case. “I am here asking for justice. A young girl has been taken from her mother. All I am asking is that she is returned to me.” Demeter asked skillfully, seemingly pleased with herself. Though her words seemed to have moved many in the room, they were mostly filled with lies spun together with bits of truth. Surely this type of deceit could not be passed here, in the very least Persephone felt confident they would be able to disprove her. Once Demeter was seen as a liar, her whole argument would fall apart.
Zeus cleared his throat taking focus from Demeter who was soaking it in. “That is a compelling story, Demeter. Why don’t you take a seat and we will get on with the tribunal.” he nodded to her as she left the floor. Hades had always described his brother as a pushover and irresponsible but now he seemed to be filling the role of king quite nicely. “Now, Persephone, because this tribunal is centered around you, would you like to add anything? I would think you would have something to say.”
With a stiff breath in, she stood up from her seat. From Hades’ throne, she had felt safe, like nothing could touch her. She had felt protected. Once again she was the girl in the garden hiding behind Hades’ shoulder. But she now had to take her destiny into her own hands, to stand up for herself, and to show them she was not only her mother’s daughter. There would be no one to take her place or to speak for her this time, this was something she had to do herself. And if she was not convincing, she could lose everything.
Once she reached the center it took a moment for her to start. The biggest difference between her and her mother was that while her mother valued the spotlight, fear was now choking her. She glanced around the room and saw one terrifying god after the other. All of them watched her as she stood alone on the open floor. But ultimately it was the smile and nod Hades sent her that gave her the courage to begin. He was her reason for being there.
“Since my beginning, all anyone has ever seen me as is the daughter of the harvest and goddess of spring; the girl who plants flowers and dances in the sun.” looking around the room she spotted Poseidon. Remembering what he had called her. Little flower. The memory gave her enough anger to push on. Now she was no longer faking her fury. She felt something grow inside her. Anger, frustration, bitterness. “In the past, you all chose not to see me as I am but instead passed me off as a minor goddess. A nymph even. You chose not to see the rage in my eyes or how I pulled the rain down from the clouds with my bare hands. And now, today, you see me as a tragedy. And I advise you not to make the same mistake again.”
She turned to Hades as she remembered their beginning. It was far from what her mother had described. She could barely keep herself from smiling ear to ear in memory. She had to remind herself that love was only meant for aphrodite. She could not be a lovesick goddess. Not if she wanted to be taken seriously and respected. Looking towards Hades he was having the same problem hiding his emotion, but he was hiding it much better than she was, having years more practice. Only the faintest shadow of a smile.
“Hades did not trick or kidnap me. He offered me a chance at a throne, a crown, and power. My mother would have you believe I am a naive goddess but I have not been a little girl for many a millennium. I ran to the Underworld, banging my fists on the gates, demanding entrance. I ran to Hades, and he gave me a throne in return.” As she confessed herself to the room she saw faces change as they took in the new information. Her confession was one they clearly did not expect. “Do not mistake me for a foolish girl for I am now the queen of the shadows. Surely you all understand that I grabbed power, my crown, and my throne as equally as I grabbed love,” she stated, gathering all the power she possessed and forced it out through her words.
Instead of waiting to be dismissed as her mother had, Persephone decided to walk off back to Hades. Turning her back to the gods who had doubted her. She had nothing more to say and she would not be left to be questioned. As she approached Hades she noticed he had taken the throne once again. His eyes gleamed with pride, love and what she could decipher as lust. When she drew closer he did not stand up to let her sit but instead waited patiently for her. She smiled knowing exactly what he wanted from her. Taking the final step she climbed into her husband’s lap as if it were a throne in itself. As if she had never sat anywhere else. Hades warped his arms around her and studied the crowd of onlookers with a sharp eye, daring any of them to challenge.
“Well this certainly is interesting isn’t it?” Zeus chuckled. His tone was light but his eyes studied her closely. While she knew he was an ally his gaze seemed unnerving to her. It felt as if he could see through her. “It seems like we have some conflicting views.”
Seeing that the floor was open, Hades spoke up but did not stand as she would have expected him to. Instead, he continued to sit with her comfortably in his lap. Once again proving he did not care about the rules, or that they merely did not apply to him. “It simply isn’t a matter of me having her. Her realm must have her.” Hades explained easily, referring to the Underworld. Persephone smiled when it was referred to as ‘her realm’ because truly it was where she now belonged.
“My realm must have her!” Demeter shouted from across the room. “She is the goddess of the spring and is connected to the earth. She belongs with me on Earth! She never was and never will be your wife.” she sneered at him unafraid of his position or prestige.
“Frankly, Demeter, you are speaking of matters you do not understand. You look to Zeus thinking he can save you but this is not a matter for my brother to decide.” Hades told her calmly. He always acted in control of all his emotions, in control of all situations, and in most circumstances, it proved an asset. “Persephone must return with me.”
Demeter scoffed at him, “There is no reason for her-”
Hades stopped her rambling before she could start, silencing her with a single fact. “She has eaten the fruit of the Underworld.” Hades interrupted, tired of playing games. In response to his claim, everyone in the room was silenced. Everyone looked to each other with questions but no one asked them. Persephone turned to Hades and a calming presence covered her. She had eaten the fruit just in case the trial went sideways. Eating the pomegranate was a precautionary measure that she was now thankful for. She felt safe knowing she was officially the goddess of the Underworld, tied to it forever.
Artemis, who up until this moment had remained quiet, spoke up asking the question everyone else was wondering. “Please clarify uncle. ”
“Pomegranate, it is the fruit of the dead. When she ate it she became tied to the Underworld. And tied to me.” he explained what they all already knew. He still studied her mother with a watchful eye as she processed the new information. He lightly squeezed her hip as he spoke, a motion no one else would see but one she certainly felt. When she looked towards Zeus he looked happy, almost relieved now that it was out of his hands and he would no longer have to make a decision.
“You cannot prove that!” her mother leaped up, finally finding her voice once more. Persephone sank in her seat, she should have known it would not have been this easy. Her mother would never let her go without a fight. “There is no way my daughter would ever tie herself to the wasteland you call a kingdom.” her mother practically yelled. It was the first time all morning she had seen her mother begin to look even slightly worried. She knew then her mother was grasping at straws.
“Persephone? Is it true? Did you eat the fruit?” Zeus asked her. She saw everyone watching her. She knew they all were wondering if it was true. Wondering if she was capable of such bold acts.
Grabbing onto Hades’ hand she steadied herself before she spoke. “Yes. I ate the pomegranate of my own free will,” she replied speaking clearly so everyone could hear her. She caught a glimpse of Hades for only a moment, his face was serene, his usual stern complexion softened momentarily. She turned to her mother, the only other important person to her. Her eyes were wide and fixed expectantly on her, wordlessly demanding for it to be false. She now knew she was losing. That she had already lost before the day had begun.
“No!” Demeter yelled in desperation. Everyone now shifted their attention towards her, watching and waiting to see what the goddess would do. “She would never. He’s forcing her. Can’t you see what he is doing?” she stammered.
“Demeter if this is indeed true you know as well as I that she must return to the Underworld.” Zeus reminded Demeter calmly so as to not attract her wrath.
“No, you can’t take her!” she shouted now only talking with Hades as she stepped out to the center once more.
“If Persephone does not come back with me then soon the separation between the Underworld and the earth will begin to blur. The living earth will be overtaken by the souls of the dead. Simply put they will be drawn to their queen. It is time for her to return.” Hades explained to Demeter calmly. His calm demeanor made it look as if he did not care but Persephone could read him and saw how focused he was on the situation at hand. She had seen him last night and knew how prepared he was for this exact confrontation.
“No, absolutely not.” She rejected even though she did not have the power to dismiss him. Desperately she looked around the room searching for the support she once had. Everyone that had rallied for her cause now fell silent. “He raped her! He must have,” she yelled out into the open courtroom. Even though it had already been quiet it now dripped with stiff silence. Not a single god moved or took a breath after Demeter’s claim.
A chill covered the room emanating from Hades as he convulsed in furry. Hades stood up, allowing for Persephone to take his seat as he marched for the now silenced Demeter. She had never seen Hades so furious with anyone before. She could feel his anger roll off of him as his emotions were now forced onto the surface.
“Lies, I would never harm Persephone!” he said as his knuckles turned white. “I would never force Persephone into any situation she didn’t want to be in. Did I ask her to come to visit me? Yes. But she came to me on her own. Does she look kidnaped?” he asked the room, now turning back around and pointing lividly towards her. “No, on the contrary, she looks quite comfortable on my thone. Any accusation otherwise is an outright lie.”
“Demeter these are serious crimes.” Zeus interrupted the gods as they began to stand toe to toe.
Rape amongst the gods was not unheard of on Olympus. It seemed there were always whispers of some girl, nymph, or even goddess who caught the unfortunate eye of a god. But ultimately whispers of them would stop and there would be no word of them after. Zeus had been famous in most of these whisperings. His name was echoed as much as anyone else’s. They spoke that he was uncontrollable, they spoke of his wife and the affairs, and they called him a tyrant. But the whispers never turned into anything. Nothing ever happened from them. They were only whispers.
There were many, like Artemis, who fought against this treatment, but there were much more who preferred for it to be kept in whispers. The reason for this was that if an accusation or confession made its way to be pronounced in court or any official proceeding it could be very serious. Mostly everyone got away with the violation because of their power or ties to those of importance. But rape was against the strictest of the god’s laws, of which could not be forgiven or bent.
“And this is a serious matter.” her mother agreed never looking away from Hades. Persephone saw as the slightest smirk appeared once again. It was meant for Hades, to warn him of what was coming. “I accuse Hades of raping and holding my daughter hostage.”